Pete Ward is to step down as CEO of Young’s Seafood Limited and leave the company after 38 years of service following a major strategic review of the business. 

Ward said he felt it was time to explore other opportunities outside of Young’s where he can look to promote the UK seafood industry as a whole. He is being replaced by Bill Showalter, CEO of Young’s parent company, Young’s Seafood International Holdings, who will take over both roles on an interim basis until a full-time replacement can be found.   

Ward’s last key responsibility was to oversee a review of the business, which was focused on driving top-line growth through new commercial strategies, innovation, and a greater emphasis on foodservice and exports. He has also helped put in place a new operating board to help ensure the review, which includes a new virtual integration strategy, is implemented.

Showalter said: “I’d like to thank Pete for his contribution to Young’s Seafood Limited. Under his leadership, we have been able to build a strong business, develop a great leadership team, establish Young’s virtual integration strategy and complete the company’s strategic review. The company is the number one UK seafood processor, and Pete’s vision and drive have been invaluable in achieving this success.”

Ward, who has been part of Young’s board for the last 24 years, and became CEO in January 2015, added: “Young’s has been a huge part of my life for the past 38 years. My commitment to the seafood industry, and the local communities in which we are located, continues to be important to me and I will now be able to dedicate more of my time to these priorities.”

One of Ward’s key achievements at Young’s has been to develop its chilled business from virtually a standing start to what is now a GBP400m (US$519m) business in its own right. He also helped implement the company’s Fish for Life responsible sourcing programme. 

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By GlobalData

Last April, Ward said the seafood group’s strategic review had identified “a number of new opportunities to explore, for example, foodservice, along with new channels, categories and markets”. His comments came as the seafood processor reported improved earnings for the year to end-September. During 2015, Young’s operating profit rose to GBP26.7m compared to GBP25.2m in 2014. The company said that EBITDA rose to GBP37.4m, up from GBP36.5m in the previous year.